Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri – Does it work?

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Probiotic containing Lactobacillus reuteri is aggressively marketed with claims of its benefits in a number of conditions. Is there sufficient evidence to support these conclusions?

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the answer is that there is no substantial evidence to conform the claims being made.

EFSA Journal 2009; 7(9):1243

SUMMARY

Following a request from the European Commission, the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies was asked to provide a scientific opinion on a list of health claims pursuant to Article 13 of Regulation 1924/2006. This opinion addresses the scientific substantiation of health claims in relation to Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 and decreasing potentially pathogenic intestinal microorganisms. The scientific substantiation is based on the information provided by the Member States in the consolidated list of Article 13 health claims and references that EFSA has received from Member States or directly from stakeholders. The food constituent that is the subject of the health claim is Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730. The Panel considers that Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 is sufficiently characterised. The claimed effect *intestinal flora* is not sufficiently defined but in the context of the proposed wording, the Panel assumes that the claimed effect refers to aspects of: *probiotic, beneficially affect the intestinal flora, support a healthy intestinal flora, and balance intestinal flora*. The Panel considers that decreasing potentially pathogenic intestinal microorganisms might be beneficial to human health. In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that the results of two human studies which related to Helicobacter pylori eradication were only available as poster abstracts, that the evidence from the animal and in vitro studies does not predict the effect of Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 consumption on the claimed effect in humans, and that the remaining references dealt with outcomes unrelated to the claimed effect. 

On the basis of the data available, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 and decreasing potentially pathogenic intestinal microorganisms.

 

For citation purposes: EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 

55730 and decreasing potentially pathogenic intestinal microorganisms (ID 904) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on request from the European Commission. EFSA Journal 2009; 7(9):1243. [13 pp.].

 doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1243. Available online: www.efsa.europa.eu

 * European Food Safety Authority, 2009 1 SCIENTIFIC OPINION Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730 (used in products in South Africa)  and decreasing potentially pathogenic intestinal microorganisms (ID 904) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061 EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA)2 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

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